September 25th, 2012 08:23 EST
Shouwang Church in China Wants Legal Protection for Religious Rights
Since April 10, 2011, Beijing Shouwang Church has endured 17 months of difficult outdoor worship and suffered 17 months of relentless suppression and persecution (including personal attacks on believers) by the Beijing government. On Sept. 14, Shouwang Church applied for an administrative review of the actions taken by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. In doing so, the church is resolutely and unhesitatingly embarking on the sacred path of using the law to defend their rights.
ChinaAid has been working since 2004-2005 with numerous house churches in China and teams of Christian lawyers headed by Fan Yafeng, Li Baiguang, Li Subin to explore strategies for using the current legal system in China to defend the rights of churches and Christians. They have also been unwavering in promoting awareness and use of this model of defending one`s rights in churches and non-church groups throughout China so as to actively and deeply influence the environment for religious freedom, human rights and the rule of law in China and to promote the effective development of a civil society.
In terms of Christian theology and ethics, we can clearly see from China`s actual unique circumstances and the practical experience of the past seven years that this model of defending churches` rights through the law is feasible, not only in that it is submitting to those in power and their laws and but also in that it adheres to the God-given principles of faith, so that [Christians and the church] can become "a city on a hill" and "a light in the dark" in Chinese society.
ChinaAid supports Shouwang Church in taking this historic step and ChinaAid calls on churches both in China and in the rest of the world to pray for Shouwang Church that this may be a beautiful testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Below is Shouwang Church`s application for administrative review:
Application for Administrative Review
Applicant: Jin Yongkui (Tianming). Male. Birthdate: *month *date, *year... ID card No.: ***
Current address: *** (Zip code) *** Tel: ***
Education: University graduate.
Respondent: Beijing Municipal Public Security
Bureau. Legal representative: Fu Zhenghua
Position: Bureau Director.
Address: 9, East Qianmen Boulevard, Dongcheng District, Beijing
1. Verify that, according to the law, the following acts on the part of the respondent violated the law:
(1) The administrative act of placing the applicant under house arrest and restricting the applicant`s personal freedom from April 9, 2011 to today (September 14, 2012);
(2) Failure to issue any legal documents with regard to restricting the applicant`s freedom;
(3) Failure to inform the applicant of the legal basis for restricting his personal freedom and how to apply for financial assistance;
(4) Pressuring [the landlord of] the space leased by Shouwang Church, making it impossible for Shouwang Church to hold its regular meetings indoors;
(5) Pressuring the real estate developer, making it impossible for Shouwang to use the property it had purchased Church (the applicant is one of the holders of the rights to this property);
(6) Detaining Shouwang Church members, forcing them to move or quit their jobs and restricting the freedom of the church`s pastors and elders by placing them under house arrest;
2. Request that the respondent immediately stop restricting the applicant`s freedom.
3. Request that the respondent immediately stop the meddling in Shouwang Church`s real estate transaction of Shouwang Church (the applicant is one of the holders of the rights to this property) so that the church can the property it purchased in a normal way, which will end Shouwang Church`s outdoor worship services.
Facts and reasons:
Beginning on April 9, 2011, the respondent, without any legal basis and without issuing any legal documents, posted guards at the door of the applicant`s home 24/7 simply because Shouwang Church was holding outdoor worship services. To date, the applicant`s personal freedom has been restricted for more than 500 days.
Based on the facts above, the applicant is of the view that:
1. The respondent`s act of confining the applicant to his home with no legal basis for over a year is a serious violation of the Law on Administrative Penalty and the basic principles of the Administrative Law.
2. Article 31 of the Law on Administrative Penalty states: "Before deciding to impose administrative penalties, administrative organs shall notify the parties of the facts, grounds and basis according to which the administrative penalties are to be decided on and shall notify the parties of the rights that they enjoy in accordance with law." Article 32 states: "The parties shall have the right to state their cases and to defend themselves. Administrative organs shall fully heed the opinions of the parties and shall reexamine the facts, grounds and evidence put forward by the parties; if the facts, grounds and evidence put forward by the parties are established, the administrative organs shall accept them..." Article 40 states: "The form of decision for administrative penalty shall be given to the party on the spot after announcement of the decision; if the party is not present, the administrative organ shall, within seven days, serve the form of decision for administrative penalty on the party in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Law." According to the above legal provisions, when the respondent restricted the applicant`s personal freedom, no legal documents were issued, nor did the respondent tell the applicant the legal basis, facts, or reasons, nor how to apply for financial assistance. This has seriously violated the provisions of the Law on Administrative Penalty.
As for Shouwang Church`s outdoor worship service, which the respondent cited orally as the reason [for its actions], the respondent has responsibility it cannot shirk because it was the respondent that began in 2008 to raid Shouwang Church meetings. In 2009, the respondent pressured the landlord of the property Shouwang Church had leased and forced him to terminate the lease, leaving Shouwang Church with no option but to hold its worship service outdoors in the cold of winter. After that, the respondent on many occasions went back on the November 2009 promise it made on behalf of the government that it would not interfere with Shouwang Church`s indoor meetings so long as Shouwang told the respondent the meeting site it had leased. After Shouwang Church told the respondent where it had leased property, the respondent directly interfered, so much so that the church was not able to hold normal meetings at the leased venue.
Moreover, the respondent pressured the Beijing Dahe Real Estate Development Company, Ltd. so that Shouwang Church was not able to use the more than 1,400-square-meter space on the second floor of Daheng Science and Technology Building that it had purchased in December 2009 with more than 26 million yuan of donations from the congregation. The respondent`s actions over the past several years have made it impossible for Shouwang Church to meet for worship either at leased venues or on property it has purchased. Consequently, Shouwang Church was left with no alternative but to worship outdoors.
In the past year and five months since Shouwang Church began holding worship services outdoors on April 10, 2011, there have been 1,600 detentions of Shouwang Church members either by Domestic Security Protection agents directly under the supervision of the respondent or in more than 90 different police stations across Beijing (for periods of several hours to 48 hours). Sixty people were evicted simply because they attended Shouwang Church`s outdoor worship services or simply because they were Shouwang Church members, more than people lost their jobs, and others were sent back to their hometowns. Some believers were confined to their homes on the weekends, and Shouwang Church`s pastors, elders and evangelists been confined to their homes up to the present time.
Based on these facts, the applicant is of the view that:
The respondent`s actions -- of interfering in the church`s normal meetings, pressuring the landlord who leased the meeting site to the church so that the church could not meet indoors, pressuring the developer so that the church cannot use the property it had purchased, detaining church members, evicting church members, forcing employers to fire church members, and placing church pastors and elders under house arrest -- all clearly demonstrate that the respondent is suppressing the religious freedom granted by the Constitution to every citizen and the right of Christian churches to practice their religious faith, all of which constitutes religious persecution.
To sum up, the respondent`s actions in restricting the applicant`s personal freedom is a serious violation of the principles and regulations of the Constitution and the administrative law. I hereby request the review agency to confirm that the administrative acts specified above violated the law and order an immediate cessation to the restriction of the applicant`s freedom. At the same time, I also request that the respondent stop interfering in Shouwang Church`s normal indoor worship activities, so that Shouwang Church can hold Sunday worship services in the property it has purchased, thus resolving this issue of outdoor worship once and for all. I request that the review agency carry out the applicant`s review request in accordance with the law.
To: Beijing Municipal People`s Government
Applicant: Jin Yongkui (Tianming) Head pastor,
Beijing Shouwang Church
September 14, 2012